Couscous-Stuffed Boneless Turkey Saddle & Tart Cherry Gravy

Temps des Fêtes 2015
food and drink

BY: Christopher St. Onge

A stuffed turkey breast can be a beautiful thing, and this version, with both breasts still attached to the skin but boned and a cinch to stuff, is definitely a winner. Order the boneless saddle from a full-service butcher, and the rest comes together easily. Be sure you have kitchen twine on hand before you begin.

1 cup (250 mL) chicken stock
2 tbsp (30 mL) butter or duck fat, divided
1 cup (250 mL) quick couscous
½ cup (125 mL) dried sour cherries
¼ cup (60 mL) shelled, toasted pistachios
½ tsp (2 mL) ground allspice
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground cinnamon
1 onion, chopped
¼ cup (60 mL) chopped parsley
1 tbsp (15 mL) chopped thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 boneless, skin-on turkey saddle, 4 to 5 lbs (2 to 2.5 kg)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp (30 mL) melted butter, or duck fat at room temperature
3 tsp (15 mL) chopped thyme, divided
2 tbsp (30 mL) flour
2 cups (500 mL) chicken stock
¼ cup (60 mL) tart cherry juice
¼ tsp (1 mL) ground allspice

1 For the stuffing, combine chicken stock and 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter or duck fat in a medium saucepan. Bring to boil, remove from heat, and stir in couscous and cherries. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork, add pistachios, allspice and cinnamon and give it a stir.

2 In a small skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter or duck fat over medium heat; add onion and fry until golden, about 7 minutes. Add onions, parsley and thyme to couscous mixture and stir to combine. Season generously with salt and pepper.

3 Preheat oven to 425°F (220°C).

4 Cut 8 pieces of twine, each about 12 inches (30 cm) long. Working on a large cutting board, arrange them parallel to each other, with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each. Open turkey like a book, and place in centre of twine with centre seam perpendicular to twine; season flesh with salt and pepper. Spoon stuffing into length of seam. Beginning with a piece of twine nearest the centre, gather both ends together to enclose stuffing; tie and repeat with remaining twine to form a torpedo-shaped roast. Trim excess twine and place on a rack over a small roasting pan or baking sheet. Brush with butter or duck fat, sprinkle with 2 tsp (10 mL) thyme; season with salt and pepper.

5 Roast for 20 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F (180°C) and cook for another 18 minutes per pound, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (73°C). Remove turkey and rack to a board and tent with foil while finishing gravy.

6 Place baking pan over medium heat on stovetop. Sprinkle flour over drippings and stir until a smooth paste forms. Pour chicken stock into pan (if using a baking sheet, scrape paste into a small pot before proceeding) and whisk until smooth; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes to thicken and concentrate flavour. Stir in cherry juice, allspice and remaining 1 tsp (5 mL) thyme. Season to taste.

7 Carve turkey into slices and serve with gravy.

Serves 8

What to Serve